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Alternative mechanisms needed to ensure more humanity and compassion in family legal disputes

Minister of State Josepha Madigan has called for the greater use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and mediation as part of family law cases such as divorces or custody, instead of adversarial and emotionally charged court battles.

Minister Madigan, who worked in family law for twenty years and spearheaded the reform of Ireland’s divorce laws last year, was speaking following the recent publication of the general scheme of the Family Court Bill by the Department of Justice.

“I know from my many years of working in family law, the huge pressures, sensitivities, and emotional distress that couples and families go through when they are dealing with issues of separation, divorce, or custody.

“So I warmly welcome moves by my colleague, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD, to continue with much-needed reforms in Irish family law by establishing dedicated divisional courts to deal with family law cases which will help to make our court system more responsive and efficient.

“More broadly, we need to remove the adversarial elements of family law cases that often see parties pitted against each other. These cases can cause great emotional grief for couples and families, particularly when children are involved.

“Future reforms should consider the need for greater recourse to alternative dispute resolution mechanisms or mediation in family law cases. I know from my previous work with the Mediators Institute of Ireland, that Ireland has several top-class mediators who are already working in this area.

“I am pleased to see the proposal to establish a Family Justice Oversight Group to drive changes in family law. I know that this group will be busy considering the various reforms that we need in Irish family law over the coming years.

“I look forward to seeing their proposals to make our court systems less adversarial in family law cases, and more in tune with the emotional sensitivities that come with many of these cases.”


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